Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bigger and Smaller

Bigger and Smaller
Robert Froman ~ Gioia Fiammenghi
Thomas Y. Crowell, 1971

Good to be back in San Antonio. New York was fun and it's always bittersweet to leave my old hometown, but there's nothing like snuggling the little guy in my own bed with the Texas breeze blowing outside. That said, I've been trying to move from fictional picture books recently into finding more nonfiction for my son and any book from the "Young Math" series totally fits the bill. Great vintage illustrations plus math lessons to boot. On the first page, we see one red splat with the word BIG underneath followed by the explanation...

Look at this paint spot. Is it big? No one can tell whether it is big. Do you know why? You can tell whether something is big only when you compare it with something else.

The next drawing is again the big red spot with a smaller purple one...

When we add another paint spot alongside the first one it is right to call the red paint spot big. It is big compared with the purple paint spot.

I just love how the little guy has to use his brain with the why and how rather than just the usual explanation-less BIG and SMALL form. As the book goes on, the brain exercises become more complicated and the ideas more abstract, perfect for stretching wee little minds to the max. I wish all science books were written and illustrated nowadays with as much thought and care.

And remember, if you are looking for a fun brain boggler and haven't thrown your hat into the ring for the Great Monday Give, feel free to do so now.


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  1. I love that young math series! I blogged about another one in that series awhile ago:


    I think older math books are often just better. Like Mitsamusa Anno's works. No one today makes math books that awesome.

  2. The illustrations wow me. I wish all my elementary-day math books had illustrations like these!

  3. Hi! I LOVE this blog. I'm a school librarian in Indiana, and am trying to re-acquaint one of our parents here with her favorite childhood book. I think this might be it! Could you tell me... She described the book as starting with "bigger than me" - an elephant, tree, house, skyscraper, and then smaller: dog, flea, atom. This book had enormous impact - she became a physicist! Could this be the book? Thanks for any help available.

  4. let me see if I can get my hands on it. it must be here somewhere... in the meantime, try posting on whatsthatbook.com... the forum there is pretty great...